You lived inside your mother’s womb, its water
and salt. You were two, twins. Each a mirror
for and of the other. One of you laid with hooves
tucked beneath your torso, your neck arched
so your head could rest next to your own body.
The other laid along the first, a drape,
not an inch of space parting this fur from that,
this muscle from that, this bone from that.
Eight ankles, eight legs, four ears, four eyes—
everything lovely about a deer, doubled.
The taxidermist who rolled your mother over
that evening by the highway was not the man
who struck her but the one who arrived after
and tried to help. He found you too late,
fully formed but drowned before you lived.
He gathered you in a blanket, brought you home
and preserved the uterine form of your bodies—
the way you nestled one another through death,
thin skins pulled like tarps over spines and hips,
your two faces facing each other, your mouths
that nearly touch but don’t. Now, in your vitrine,
you pass breathless secrets back and forth without
end. Secret of death. Secret of suffering. Secret
of two slipping in and out of this dark world as one.
When the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Red River
between Texas and Oklahoma, four towns drowned.
Schools, houses, churches and gardens held their breath
beneath thirty feet of water before they drowned.
The cemeteries, the marked and unmarked graves, all drowned.
The dead shifted with the silt, where daily they drowned.
The grave marker of infant Johnny Parks was exposed in a drought.
When the water level finally rose, his memory was drowned.
I swam in that lake for years, unaware of the towns below me
being etched by water and microbes long after they drowned.
Some visitors tell stories of bones floating up like driftwood.
A man claims to have found a skull. He assumed its owner had drowned.
ís work has appeared in numerous journals, including Barrow Street, Failbetter, Fence, Knockout Literary Magazine, Pif Magazine, and Vinyl Poetry. Her chapbooks include Tomorrow I Will Love You at the Movies, coauthored with Jay Snodgrass (Hyacinth Girl Press, forthcoming), In the Space Where I Was (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012), Toward What Is Awful (YesYes Books, 2012), and The Spare Room (Blood Pudding Press, 2009). She edits Cascadia Review.